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News & Press: Member News

Columbia RNA student chapter hosts White House, sexual violence panels

Tuesday, April 11, 2017  
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By Emily Churchill
President, Columbia Journalism Religion News Association

Spotlight: Media and The Intersection of Sexual Violence Justice


On Friday, April 7, the Columbia Journalism Religion News Association was pleased to join Columbia University’s Sexual Violence Response team, as well as Women in Media, the DART Center and the Columbia University Chaplain’s Office to host an event entitled “Spotlight: Media and The Intersection of Sexual Violence Justice.”

Following a showing of the Oscar-winning film "Spotlight," which depicts the real-life story of a team of investigative reporters exploring a child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, a panel was held to discuss issues surrounding religion, sexual abuse and the coverage thereof in the media. Panelists included Professor Helen Benedict of the Columbia Journalism School, the Rev. Sally MacNichol of CONNECT and Kirsten deFur of Columbia Sexual Violence Response.

The discussion was in-depth, covering issues ranging from the secrecy and trust within faith societies to how the media covers victimhood based on race and gender. Benedict, who has covered sexual abuse in the military at length, spoke about the double betrayal of trauma and the loss of faith in an institution. The panelists also discussed what the film got right and wrong about covering these issues.

The CJRNA would like to thank Columbia SVR for organizing the event and allowing us to take part in hosting it. We would also like to thank the panelists who illuminated this film with their insights.


The New White House Correspondents


On Monday, April 3, CJRNA was pleased to host its second panel of the semester, entitled “The New White House Correspondents.” The panel sought to shed light on the new and changing world of the White House Briefing Room under President Trump’s new administration through a dialogue with White House correspondents whose outlets had never before been granted press access.

Panelists included Lucian Wintrich of The Gateway Pundit, Andrew Feinberg of Sputnik and Jake Turx of Ami Magazine. Each individual has helped shift the media landscape in Washington. Wintrich is known as a political artist who gained attention with his pro-Trump art shows and his photograph series entitled “Twinks4Trump.” Feinberg works for Russia’s state news service, which has been accused of propaganda. Turx is a Hasidic Jew who famously was told to sit down by President Trump after Turx asked a question about anti-Semitism.

Moderated by Columbia Journalism Professor Ari Goldman, the panel was heavily attended. Audience members were a mixture of Columbia Journalism students, faculty and the general public, including some who donned "MAGA" hats. The discussion ranged from the paths each journalist took to reach the White House to their thoughts on so-called "establishment" media. The Q&A portion featured many questions about what it means to the Jewish community to have an Orthodox Jew in the pressroom, as well as the role of hardball versus softball questions in Press Secretary Sean Spicer's daily briefings.

The CJRNA would like to thank the panelists for participating, and particularly for their fascinating points of view in these rapidly changing times for politics, media and the interaction between the two.



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